Callum McGregor urges Scotland to keep the faith and BACK Steve Clarke in wake of humiliating Republic of Ireland loss… with under-fire boss facing a must-win Nations League tie away in Armenia tonight
- Scotland were booed off after a 3-0 defeat to Republic of Ireland in Dublin
- The Tartan Army now head to Armenia for what is seen as a must-win match
- Pressure is building on manager Steve Clarke following the humiliating defeat
- Callum McGregor has given a call to arms, calling for boss Clarke to be backed
- Click here for all the latest World Cup 2022 news and updates
Callum McGregor has urged the nation not to lose faith with Scotland and manager Steve Clarke as they aim to bounce back from Saturday’s humiliating loss to the Republic of Ireland.
Clarke’s side were deservedly booed off the Aviva Stadium pitch by the Tartan Army after their dismal 3-0 defeat in Nations League Group B1.
That alarming performance came after Scotland were outclassed in a 3-1 World Cup play-off defeat to Ukraine earlier this month and the under-fire Clarke has admitted nothing less than a victory over Armenia in Yerevan on Tuesday night will now suffice.
Pressure is building on Steve Clarke ahead of a crucial Nations League game away in Armenia
Republic of Ireland beat Scotland 3-0 to record their first Nations League victory on Saturday
McGregor knows improvement is necessary if the team are to avoid being tagged as underachievers following the highs of reaching Euro 2020 last summer.
The Scotland midfielder said: ‘The success of being at the last tournament has given everyone the belief and expectation that we should be getting there on a regular basis.
‘That’s the type of team we want to be. We want to be achieving things as a group.
‘As players, we want to achieve things individually too, so we have to meet the standards we have set ourselves in the last 18 months or so.
Midfielder Callum McGregor wants fans to back Clarke and keep the faith in the current side
‘It’s important we don’t forget the good work that has happened in that period, that we don’t lose belief in ourselves — and also that the nation don’t lose belief in us either. So Armenia is important because we have to get back on track quickly.
‘There has been a lot of reflecting on Saturday’s game and looking at the negatives from it. Ultimately, we have to brush ourselves down and go again because this is a big game.
‘We have to go away with a positive result and be ready to come back in September and make sure it’s a successful campaign.
‘The Tartan Army travel everywhere in their numbers and we really disappointed them against Ireland on Saturday. So it’s important we finish this little block of games strongly and try and give them a little bit of positivity to take away over the summer.’
Clarke has also come in for fierce criticism after the team’s recent slump but McGregor offered a firm defence of his boss.
The Celtic skipper said: ‘I think the manager has done a great job. Look at where the national team was when he came in.
Defeat in Dublin saw Clarke (middle) and his defeated players booed off by travelling fans
‘He has made a huge impact. He has got us to a tournament for the first time in 23 years.
‘We then got to a play-off semi-final, which was the closest we have come to a World Cup for many, many years as well. So you have to look at the success and the building process he has put in place.
‘By no means are we the finished article or we think that we have arrived. There is a lot of work to be done, but the players and staff all understand that.
‘There is a lot of good work being done and to jump on the bandwagon too early is the wrong thing to do.
‘We have to stick with the manager. He has done a lot right, a lot of good things for the country and this group of players, so it is important now that we trust him and stand behind him.’